February 15, 2013 by aoifebrennan
What can I say? I saw the original musical years ago in the West End in London. I was blown away by it then. My experience of musicals up to that point that had been more along the Ginger Rogers style of production, that is to say, a bit of dialogue, some plot and then a bit of dancing and singing. Not that I was an expert but you know what I mean. Watching Les Mis on stage I was blown away. I had never witnessed a musical that told the story exclusively through song. It was just amazing. Over the years I have bought the music and listened to it on my stereo. I have sung the songs in local choirs. I have ‘dreamed the dream’, ‘brought him home’ and even ‘heard the people sing’ in one ambitious rendition of that piece. Then last week I went to see the film. I have to confess to experiencing some worry and anxiety before going to the cinema. I did not want a personal favourite to be spoiled. It is might have been like watching the film of a book and hating it (which happens quite frequently) or meeting a hero in person and discovering they are rude and unpleasant and nothing at all like their stage character. I am so glad to say that Les Mis was none of those things. It sung to my heart even stronger than the memory of the first viewing twenty-odd years ago. The opening scene was breathtaking and for the next 154 minutes I never looked back.
If there was one criticism I might make it was about poor Russell Crowe. His fine acting was a given but his voice was weak. Other actors, also blessed with similar frailty of musical ability, were luckier. Their acting disguised any lack of talent. Sadly Crowe had a number of huge set pieces and no amount of acting could fail to hide the lack of true volume and timbre in his voice. But it did not dampen the production, it is merely an observation of mine.
The other thing I wanted to comment on was Eddie Redmayne. I watched his performance and exited the cinema with a huge girl crush on him. I said to Trish, who saw the film with me, that it was ridiculous. Here I was with a massive crush on a young man who was probably only in his twenties, if that. Imagine my relief when I discovered he is actually 31! Not that it makes any difference and I don’t expect to bump into him in my local Aldi, but still ….
So, for those of you undecided about the film, all I can say is go! But I have first dibbs on Mr Redmayne!